Human communication is a broad concept with a vast area of influence. Exploring this topic can be difficult to understand as a whole. Therefore, it is helpful to separate the large whole and understand it according to these terms. To begin, one must look at human communication as a word to understand what the parts of it is, in order to grasp a whole.
The term has two distinct words to be broken apart and observed in their own right. These two distinct words being “human” and “communication.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (2016) the word communication stems from the Latin infinitive “communicare” which means “to share.” This concept of sharing is implied when thinking of what it means to communicate. This is a process which people utilize “to share.” The question this line of thought provokes is, what is one sharing? If communication truly is “to share,” then there must be an object which is being shared. This can be understood and described by the other word within the term.
Consulting the same etymology dictionary (2016), human derives from the Latin “homo” which means man, or human being. This, at the face value, does not seem very helpful towards understanding what we are sharing. But, when considered at length, it can be determined this is exactly what is being shared. Within human communication, what is being shared is one’s humanity. The different aspects which comprise a person of their own distinct “human-ness.”
In summation of this exercise in our exploration of the term, “human communication,” it can be said to mean, “to share one’s human-ness.” Human-ness, meaning, these distinct aspects which comprise a person of their humanity. A follow-up questions which must be addressed is, what are some of these things which comprise a person’s humanity? As this is a very abstract concept, it will take quite a few practical examples to better understand.
One example of how someone can express an aspect of their human-ness comes from Thriving on Chaos (1987). Tom Peters provides an Information Artifact (Gillette, 2016) describing management and breaking it down for others to understand. Tom Peters’ human-ness, in this context, is characterized by his experience in the business sector and, more specifically, management. Not only does he describe part of his human-ness in the business sector, but also in the scholarly realm as well. Although, an interesting task of Peters’ is to elude to a less scholarly and educated version of himself for success in the business arena. Although Peters has obtained a doctorate he has omitted this from his name on the front of the book. He not only does that but also describes a works cited section as acknowledgements at the very in what is the smallest font size of the book. This gives the impression of less scholarly work attached to the book to allow for an emphasis on “doing”” as is respected in the business world.
Tom Peters’ captures a large aspect of humanity in this information artifact. This broad category, as it can be defined, is experience. Experience seems to be the main driver of such a text as it allows Peters to have well-developed formulated theories on the subject. Human experience plays a large role in who someone is and how they continue to react to the world and towards other humans. As other outcroppings of humanity, or human-ness, impact someone elses, it forms a new way for one to share his/her own human-ness.
“For example, the term may only hold meaning in reference to the spoken word between two people while to others it could hold a deeper meaning such as the unspoken bond between a human mother and child” (Eber, 2016). My fellow team member Rick Eber points out a key concept into defining a person’s human-ness. My teammate uses the concept of depth to describe the two different interchanges. As this is helpful, it does not totally suffice for understanding what this “deep-ness” is referring to, emotional depth. The key differing factor between the two aforementioned interchanges deals with the emotional depth being shared. Sharing the emotion is a key characteristic in and of itself. The Online Etymology Dictionary (2016) provides insight into the component parts of the word emotion; the first part stems from Latin prefix “ex-” meaning out, while the second stems from Latin “movere” meaning move. Putting this together we come to understand emotion as an outward motion. Intuitively we understand this concept as we describe people having no emotion, or some as being very emotional. People often confuse this concept with feelings instead of the emotional outcroppings, or the movement of oneself outwards.
Stepping back to the example of a child and a mother, one can intuitively understand and see the connection between the two parties due to emotion. The mother and child both connect with one another due to the outwards motion of what is occurring inside each. Another example of how emotion is inseparable from human communication is when one person attempts communication to another person of a different language.
Having been in a situation such as this before, speaking and sharing complex concepts of an intellectual nature is nearly impossible. However interactions may still carry great meaning as you both connect in your human-ness. Laughter transcends barriers as well as tears. These outwards motions of one’s human-ness allows a person to interact and empathize with another without the same complex coding system, or language.
Another aspect of an outcropping of one’s human-ness is one’s self-identity. A concept of a self-identity does not refer to how one truly is in the context of things, but it refers to a view of oneself. How a person views him or herself is a form of one’s human-ness. A concept, or theory, of who a person is, is inexplicably ties towards how we share our humanity with others. “Finally, theories are intimately tied to action.. How we think – our theories – guide how we act; and how we act – our practices – guide how we think” (Littlejohn, 2011). Littlejohn and Foss drive home this point well. To consider oneself a certain person with a particular identity allows a person to carry themselves with such a particular identity.
To provide an example of who considers himself/herself to be a strong and independent person will share in his/her human-ness in a distinctly different way that someone who perceives themselves as a weak person who needs others badly. The first person does not worry about harming the feelings of others whereas the second would care deeply whether his/her actions are affecting other people. If you were to insult both of these people the first would either not care because there’s no need for you or offence you back. Insulting the second might be met with agreement, or admission of accusations being true. Though self-esteem and self-identity are different, self-esteem does play a large role in building self-identity.
Take a moment and consider the question, “Who are you?” What is the first thing to come to mind? Though this may not be a complete self-identity it may reflect the most important aspect. Considering what you thought of first as being the most relevant because this concept of yourself is at the forefront of your mind. Now consider how this self-identity affects your actions. This identity more than likely, shapes your practice and everyday life all the time. It is probably your guiding theory. You live your life thinking of yourself as, “something.” This something details and describes how you relate with others using your human-ness to share in others’ human-ness.
This does not comprehensively describe what it means to be a human. However, it does break down one gigantic area into three huge areas to better understand what it means to communicate. To share in one’s human-ness. It must be mentioned this occurs in many different forms. “One can shout, whisper, wave with a hand, text a message, write an email, or send a letter. However, absence of human communication can also be representative of human communication” (Davlatov, 2016). My fellow DS describes many ways people express, or share, their human-ness with one another. These outcroppings can be separated into three different types. “This being said, it is my hypothesis that human communication can be defined by the unity of these three subcategories as such: a utilization of verbal, non-verbal. Or written action to convey a thought, message, or piece of information” (Ulrick, 2016). These different mediums for communicating encapsulate the different modes of sharing in one’s human-ness. Verbal includes the act of spoken word or in conversation. Non-verbal includes the act of body language or subtext given within a live conversation. One confusing [I CAN’T BELIEVE I USED THE WORD CONFUSING IN THIS PAPER I AM AN IDIOT READING THIS AT A LATER TIME… I WANT TO CHANGE THIS WORD IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE HE IS GOING TO TEAR INTO IT!!!! (rant over)] aspect for me is the concept of sign-language. It would seem a non-verbal act, but at the same time it is the course of a verbal interaction for people who are unable to communicate verbally. The last aspect, as purported by moy colleague, involves written word. This includes any text givent which must be read, such as the Information Artifact, Thriving on Chaos. These different medium allow for multiple pathways and methods for human communication to occur.
To dive back into the guiding premise, all of this is to say human communication is, “to share one’s human-ness.” This developes straight from the term and has many implications as described through the discourse of this essay. To understand what this means completely, it must be understood what human-ness, or one’s humanity, entails. This is broken down into three distinct parts; experience, emotion, and self-identity. These three components encapsulate what it means to be a human and to have human-ness. Although it is great “to share’ this, these different media for sharing fall under three major categories; verbal, non-verbal, and written. These forms of communication develop a person’s ability to share and help one understand how to better go about such a process. To share one’s human-ness, this is the essence of human communication.
Harper, D. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved November 01, 2016, from http://www.etymonline.com
Davlatov, D. (2016). The Essence of Information Transfer: Human Communication Defined. Unpublished manuscript Muncie, IN: Center for Information and Communication Sciences.
Eber, R. (2016). Human Communication: Defining the Undefinable. Unpublished manuscript Muncie, IN: Center for Information and Communication Sciences.
Peters, T. J. (1987). Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a management revolution. New York: Knopf.
Gillette, J. E. (2016). Class Discourse: ICS 602. Muncie, IN: Center for Information and Communication Sciences.
Ulrick, R. (2016). Human Communication: A Theory of a Graduate Student. Unpublished manuscript Muncie, IN: Center for Information and Communication Sciences.